Inter Law – The building that just cant be demolished following injury claim sagas

The building that just can”t be demolished following injury claim sagas – 26/03/2017Despite now being over six years since 9/11, the toxic shell of the Deutsche Bank building remains standing. It stood proud next to the twin towers with a bridge connecting it to the tower’s elevated campus. Today, legal wrangles over insurance and personal injury claims leave it standing as the building nobody wants to touch.

Initially it seemed as though Deutsche Bank were going to salvage the 26 storey structure, but the massive devastation of September 11 had caused more than just the structural damage that was first apparent. A $33 Million test in 2002 found that the building contained deadly cocktails of lead, mercury, dioxin and asbestos. Following a lengthy legal battle with insurers that concluded in a $250 million payout in 2006, it was decided that demolition work would begin.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informed the bank that the contamination would mean that a conventional demolition job was out of the question. They demanded that the building was cleaned of every speck of dust to avoid air contamination or possible contamination with new buildings under construction at ground zero.

Each time, as many as 50 workers would be on the floor, all of them in double-layer Tyvek suits with respirators, were deployed with toothbrushes and pipe cleaners to scrape away at every exposed inch of bolt, pipe or conduit.

Demolition Company Galt had been chosen because they were the only company suited to dealing with such painstaking work. They agreed an original fee of some $60 million dollars that would soon prove not to be able to come close to the insurance and injury claim payouts to follow.

In March 2006, two panes of glass fell from the tower causing serious injury and another worker was injured falling 40 feet from the tower. Yet more accidents occured in 2007 when a 15ft pipe fell from the 35th floor, plunging through the roof and injuring two firefighters, sparking dozens of violations and compensation claims against the contractors, Galt was fired as the mountain of personal injury claims had sent costs soaring.

Nobody knew how much more such “deconstruction” work was going to cost, it had already cost taxpayers $150 million and the building was still standing as it was on that fateful day. Many of the claims for personal injury had yet to payout and EPA had no choice but to turn to government contractors to get the work done.

The final straw came as two firefighters were killed on August 18, 2007 with the Lower Manhattan Department Corp (LMCD), facing huge claims for litigation as a result of the basement’s standpipe that should have supplied water, being turned off in the event of a fire that resulted in their deaths.

New York Stock Exchange chief Dick Grasso commented at the time: “It’s likely that the very measures that were insisted upon by the EPA to protect those on the outside had a less than salutary effect to those on the inside when the fire started.”

A new contractor has been hired, at great expense, in the face of LVI services, which cleaned up the Pentagon after 9/11. The building is hoped to now be demolished by the end of 2008. Although the civil and criminal cases will explore many new details to try and prevent such drawn out tragedy from happening at one building again.

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